Saying the words temporomandibular joint disorder is a mouthful under the best of circumstances. Imagine saying it with an aching jaw and popping jaw joints. Those are some of the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ as it’s commonly referred too. Other symptoms of TMJ include headaches and muscles spasms in the jaw area, with stress exacerbating the TMJ symptoms.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ is caused when the discs that pad the temporomandibular joint becomes worn down or displaced as a result of chronic teeth grinding or clenching. TMJ can also be a result of a trauma, like getting hit in the face, which displaces the temporomandibular joint. Certain diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue disorders can also cause temporomandibular joint disorder.
Treatment Options for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The good news for TMJ suffers is that the disorder is treatable, usually resulting in all the symptoms being totally relieved.
Treatment options for TMJ begin with over-the-counter NSAID, like Ibuprofen, to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Taking NSAID pain relievers are often the only treatment needed, or the over-the-counter medication may be combined with physical therapy, moist heat or ice therapy, massage or exercises to increase the jaw joint’s range of motion.
If these starting point treatment options for TMJ don’t work, your doctor may recommend wearing a mouth guard at night to take the pressure off the jaw joints by creating a space between upper and lower teeth while you are asleep. Mouth guards can be purchased over-the-counter, but a custom-made mouth guard will fit more comfortably.
For those who suffer with severe cases of TMJ, your doctor may recommend a treatment called arthrocentesis. Arthrocentesis is a procedure in which the affected jaw joint(s) is injected with an anesthetic and fluid to reduce pain causing inflammation and improve range of motion for the jaw.
Botox injections are used as an out-of-the-ordinary temporomandibular joint disorder treatment option. Botox injections stop the muscle spasms that many TMJ suffers experience. In rare cases of TMJ, surgery may be required to realign the jaw.
How Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is Diagnosed
A dentist or oral surgeon can diagnose the presence of TMJ with an oral examine to determine how far the mouth can be opened. An X-ray, MRI or CAT scan may also be needed to determine if TMJ is really the problem or if there is another underlying cause.